Autumn 2019 Seminar Series

Co-sponsored by the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, artsmethods@manchester, German Studies (UoM), and Religions & Theology (UoM).

Breaking the Mnemonic Silence: Novelistic and Cinematographic Returns of Jewish-Muslim Intimacy in Morocco
Brahim El Guabli, Williams College, USA
Wednesday, September 18, 4-6pm
Room 4.211, University Place, University of Manchester

The life and memory of Moroccan Jews have been absented from official history and “tabooed” in institutionalized social memory for a long time. As a result of the Arab-Israeli struggle and the internal political strife in Morocco throughout the post-independence period (1956-1999), a multilevel silence was imposed on the memory of the departed Jews. Generations of Moroccans grew up ignoring the fact that that until fairly recently (1967) their cities and villages were teeming with a vibrant Jewish population whose lives were entirely entangled with those of Muslims. Literature and film, both in Arabic and French by Muslim Moroccans, recreates a world inhabited by both Jews and Muslims in order to account for Moroccan society’s loss of its Jews. This seminar proposes to explore literature and film as a locus in which historiographical forgetfulness is actively contested and as a mnemonic space in which a bygone world is recreated.

Subcontracting Guilt: Holocaust Memory, Culture and Immigrant Integration in Germany
Esra Özyürek (London School of Economics)
Monday October 14, 2-4pm
Room G35, Humanities Bridgeford Street Building, University of Manchester

A fundamental aspect of contemporary European, especially German, national identity is the necessity of coming to terms with the Holocaust and learning the ‘right’ lessons from it, above all the emotional and ethical lessons of empathy and tolerance. Following World War II, Muslim-background minorities arrived in large numbers in Western Europe to help rebuild the war-torn continent. Today these same immigrants, many of them second- and third-generation, are commonly accused of being unable to relate to Holocaust history, of remaining unsympathetic towards its Jewish victims, and of importing new forms of anti-Semitism. Accordingly, the German government, German NGOs, and Muslim-minority groups have together begun to organise an assortment of Holocaust education and anti-Semitism prevention programmes designed specifically for Muslim-background immigrants and refugees, so they too can learn the ‘right’ lessons from the Holocaust and thereby share in Germany’s most important post-War political values. Based on ethnographic research, this seminar suggests that recent debates about the responsibility of immigrants in shouldering Holocaust memory culture have the potential to draw those citizens without a European background towards post-Holocaust European values such as tolerance, democracy and empathy. However, we will also examine how these debates can drive such citizens away, by reproaching them for not having gone through the same stages of democratisation that Germans have gone through since losing World War II.

“The Shīʿa are the Jews of Our Umma”: Rethinking Alterity in Medieval Islam
Aaron W. Hughes, Rochester University, USA
Wednesday, November 7, 4-6pm
Venue TBC

This seminar examines Islamic studies’ unwillingness and inability to deal with minoritarian traditions, and argues that it differs little from the medieval heresiographical tradition. By farming out such groups (e.g., Jews, Shīʿa) to specialized subfields, we risk losing sight of Islam’s complexity, and in the process mistake Sunni Islam as the necessary historical outcome of the Prophet’s preaching rather than its contingent development.